Every college campus faced an unexpected disruption to their sense of normalcy last March at the onset of the global pandemic. The COVID-19 college experience is unique to our generation of students. Across the nation, college students were suddenly subject to a trial-and-error adjustment period as we all adapted to the new reality. St. Lawrence was no exception to this period of adjustment, however, we fared better than most other campuses. Switching to a three-term calendar made it possible for students to still attend school on campus for two terms this year. Although summer classes and fellowship opportunities have always allowed for students to spend the summer at SLU, there was not a true summer semester until the 2020-2021 school year.
Because my study abroad program was canceled, I was placed in the fall and summer semesters this year. At first, I was disappointed to hear that not only was I not going to have the opportunity to study in Australia, but I was also going to have to attend school in the summer. By the end of my first week here this May, my perspective changed entirely.
Since we have arrived on campus, national and local COVID-19 cases numbers have dropped drastically and we have been quickly approaching a new sense of normal. If there is one thing Laurentians know how to do, it’s to make the most out of any situation thrown our way. I am grateful to have the opportunity to spend the summer in the North Country and take advantage of the local waterfalls, hiking trails, and golf course.
Students and professors alike have been making the most of the beautiful weather and the new opportunities that the summer semester allows. For example, Professor Joe Erlichman was able to offer "The Biology of Brewing" for the first time. The only prerequisite was to be 21 years old, and I and eight others were lucky enough to be the first students to take this course.
Spending the first five weeks of the semester learning how to prepare, brew, and market our own beers was the perfect way to make the most of the summer at SLU. We were fortunate enough to have a local restauranter guest lecture and walk us through the business side of the operation while also gaining hands-on experience working with brewing equipment. We took “field trips” to different local breweries to chat with business owners and even try their product. At the end of the five-week course, each group left the class with growlers full of our own beer.
There are roughly 400 students on campus this summer and we all are living in three neighboring dorms. Being in such close proximity to one another as a smaller community than usual, we have grown into a tight-knit group as the semester has progressed. I think I speak for everyone when I say that the summer semester is not only unique because of the warm weather and new course offerings, but because everyone is spending time with peers that they would not have crossed paths with normally.
As much as I am looking forward to a “normal” senior year starting in the fall, the summer semester will certainly be a fond memory of my time at St. Lawrence.